Academic journal article Goethe Yearbook

Ausgewählte Werke

Academic journal article Goethe Yearbook

Ausgewählte Werke

Article excerpt

Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim, Ausgewählte Werke. Ed.Walter Hettche. Schriften des Gleimhauses Halberstadt, 1.Göttingen:WallsteinVerlag, 2003.768 pp.

In the absence of a critical edition of Gleim's works, which is unlikely to appear any time soon, if ever, Walter Hettche's generous selection of poems and verse translations and adaptations is a most welcome addition to eighteenth-century literary studies. A prolific poet and indefatigable correspondent, Gleim provided new direction to German poetry on more than one occasion. His first collection of poems, Versuch in Scherzhaften liedern (1744-45), established his reputation as the German Anacreon and set the standard for a freshly conceived German poetry of worldly pleasures and easy flirtatious charm. Gleim's studied naturalness masked the skillful construction of the works. In his next major success, Preussische Kriegslieder in den Feldzugen 1756 and 1757 von einem Grenadier, the poems were carefully crafted in a naïve tone coupled with an exuberant patriotic energy that won them immense popularity. Gleim's work successfully promoted the English ballad stanza (the so-called Chevy Chase stanza) that remained a standard German verse form well into the twentieth century. Numerous Anacreontic poems, romances, verse fables, idylls, adaptations from Horace and from Minnesang, didactic and epigrammatic poetry and much more are included in this edition. Hettche provides the best known of Gleim's collections in full and a representative selection of poems from the remaining ones, all in the original orthography. He also includes Gleim's verse adaptations of two contemporary dramas: Lessing's Philotas and Klopstock's Der Tod Adams. The choices are thoughtful and informed.

Throughout his life Gleim urgently fostered contacts with other German writers, reaching far beyond his own generation and the Halberstadt environs to create a network of cordial exchange. Portions of Gleim's extensive correspondence have been published over the years. …

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